Meet Pauline Chardin of The Voyageur
Pauline Chardin is a French fashion designer and trend consultant who’s been living in Paris for almost ten years. Her website, TheVoyageur.net, transports us to the picture-perfect destinations she visits around the world. Places we now dream of seeing ourselves one day.
Interview Nicole Danielle
Photographs Pauline Chardin
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m basically a granny in disguise with hobbies and interests that sometimes feel a bit outdated like sewing, drawing and collecting way too many vases. I try to balance my grandma side with my geek side, but it has yet to be proven if the mix of the two is attractive.
Who or what inspires you?
Vases! I’m kidding (not really). Well, if I had to sum it up, I would say: Antiquity, the 30s, desert landscapes, India and Paul Morand.
Favourite countries that you’ve visited?
Italy, for its amazing cocktail of art, food, sun and beauty. India, for its mesmerizing and infinite richness.
Where to next?
We’re going to Japan this Spring. I feel this is one of those “gotta go there at least once” destinations. I used to feel a bit intimidated at the idea of planning a trip there, but since I’ve started to look into it I can’t wait to get there!
Do you go to each place with a plan? Or do you simply "go with the flow"?
I guess I’m more on the planner’s side. If we’re only spending a weekend somewhere I like to review our options beforehand to try and avoid any disappointments. Likewise if we’re going far away. I’d rather have everything planned so I can relax while I’m there. The only exception is summer holidays where I usually rent a small house and keep activities to a minimum.
Has there ever been a moment, when in a particular country, that you’ve felt inspired by their sense of style and culture?
For me that happens almost every time - I’m actually looking for it. It can be the way Indians mix colours, the almost mystic graphic sense of traditional Greece, the delicacy of Vietnamese women or the bold opulence of Italian architecture. There is always some specific trait to marvel at if you’re attentive enough.
They say that travelling is one of the best forms of education. Would you agree?
I feel it does help put the world into perspective, be it aesthetically or politically. I find it very interesting to examine the cultural links between countries, or it’s true that sometimes you have to go “there” to connect the dots.
Do you try and adapt your style to the culture in the country you’re visiting?
Yes! Maybe that’s a professional deformation. Plus, of course, there are countries where you have to adapt your wardrobe to local “moral” standards, like in India or Egypt. In any case I feel it helps getting myself in the mood to plan my suitcase according to the destination. I guess it’s part of the fantasy. And you wouldn’t want to have to spend a week in Kerala without any bright colours to wear, that would be a shame!
Do you pack a full suitcase or do you leave space in your luggage for new acquisitions?
My suitcase is usually full and I generally want to buy a lot of things. That’s where the whole ”luggage management” operation starts (which includes my husband saying, "Don’t buy that giant basket!"), in which I try to make everything fit the infamous airline company regulations.
When photographing for your website, is there anything specific that you look out for?
I guess if you look at the tags on The Voyageur you’ll find out what I’m obsessing over. Patterns, columns, fountains, ceramics and vegetation are some examples…
What are your top five travel tips?
1. Do some research ahead. I know it’s a drag sometimes, but it’s almost always worth it.
2. Really find out what matters to you before spending any money. My father always says, “If you’re happy, you forget how much it has cost you.”
3. Dare to skip “must-see” sites if they’re too crowded, you’ll be much more happy seeing, in peace, something less well-known, plus you might feel like you’ve actually discovered something.
4. Walk or cycle when you can. Driving all the time can be very tempting, but you’re probably missing a part of the show.
5. Slow down, take some extra time to look at the details or just look at the view, ‘cause that’s something you might not be able to do at home.
And your top five travel items?
1. My camera, of course! I stick to my Sigma DP2 Merrill because it’s rather compact.
2. My smartphone. I mark all the interesting spots on Google Maps, which makes travelling, especially in cities, so much easier.
3. A tablet with a good collection of movies. Vacations are the right time to catch up on those classics that you’re too lazy to watch on a work night.
4. My travel steamer. It makes me sound crazy, but I don’t care. When we change hotels several times during a trip I find it’s a great luxury to wear an un-crinkled dress on day 13.
5. A drawing pad, watercolours and crayons. I always want to draw more and it seems like I only manage to do so when I travel.
What advice can you give to aspiring travel photographers and fashion designers?
Be curious. The only catch is that this curiosity has to be authentic, you can’t force it, so be patient. Some things used to bore me until one day I found them interesting. You have to find an angle that suits you.
What is your most prized possession you’ve acquired while travelling?
I don’t know if it’s the most precious thing, but I bought a basket in Barcelona a few years ago and it’s been my market companion ever since. It used to have this very strong leather smell which was kind of awful, but it has faded with time, and now we’re good friends!